Mackenzie Loesing to sit out senior year, ending her UB career
Loesing granted medical disqualification after chronic ankle issues
Junior guard Mackenzie Loesing thought the last time she was going to play competitive basketball was on Dec. 5, 2014.
On that day, a doctor told the star guard of the women’s basketball team that she would need a third surgery on her ankle that would effectively end her career. But she persevered, finishing out her junior season.
Nearly five months after Loesing’s conversation with the doctor, her playing career officially ended.
Loesing was granted medical disqualification due to a recurring ankle injury and will sit her senior season, ending her three-year career at Buffalo. Loesing finished her career ranked ninth in career points (1,243) in program history and seventh in 3-pointers (123) and is the reigning Mid-American Conference Sixth Player of the Year.
“That’s the day that will forever be engraved in my mind,” Loesing said of Dec. 5. “On that day, I thought I was done forever. I thought my career was over ... I wasn’t expecting to be told that my career is done by a doctor.”
The early retirement became official on April 25 when Loesing signed the paperwork that declares her medically ineligible for next season and was announced by UB Athletics on Wednesday. After the Bulls’ 63-55 loss to Ohio in the semifinals of the MAC Tournament in Cleveland, Ohio, head coach Felisha Legette-Jack revealed Loesing played with torn ligaments in her ankle for the majority of the season.
Loesing dealt with chronic ankle issues for the majority of her college career, but the injury began when she was still in high school.
When she was a senior in high school, Loesing received an MRI after coming down hard on her ankle during a game. She said a doctor told her the “ligaments exploded” and she would need reconstructive surgery.
After her surgery in March 2012, she played out her freshman year at UB and didn’t have complications until the summer heading into her sophomore year.
“I got it checked out and they said the ligament was so stretched out it didn’t show up on an MRI,” Loesing said.
Loesing tore her ligament for the second time in three years. She went in for surgery for a second time in April 2014 and immediately felt pain once the cast was removed three months later, but insisted she was going to play her junior season. She wanted to rehab her ankle longer than the first time around to reduce another injury.
A hobbled Loesing began the 2014-15 season on time, but an injury sustained during a tournament in late November prompted a third visit to the doctor. On Dec. 5, she found out her next surgery would be career-ending.
Loesing said the doctor was ready to present Loesing with the medical disqualification papers right there, but she needed to consult with many people, including Legette-Jack.
“I don’t tell any of the players to do anything,” Legette-Jack said. “I bring things to their attention. Being a wife and a mother, it’s very important to present these young ladies with a future. The future for her would be with her children running in the park. That’s something we have to make certain we had to protect.”
Legette-Jack was one of the first people to find out about the diagnosis and immediately began a process that would keep Loesing on the court for the remainder of the season. Loesing and Legette-Jack mutually agreed she would practice only before game days and would come off the bench to limit her minutes.
“Coach Jack wanted to protect me,” Loesing said. “The future of my career wasn’t exactly clear. It was an opportunity for me to contribute to the team and also give people like [sophomore guard] Joanna Smith and [sophomore forward] Alexus Malone the opportunity to start a game. They were definitively the future of the program.”
Legette-Jack said there were times where Loesing’s ankle almost gave out, but the junior guard was able to finish off the season.
“She always wanted to put my health first from the beginning,” Loesing said. “But that included physical health and emotional health.”
Loesing played in 30 games this season and started 12 of them, most of which came in the first half of the season. Her final game was an 84-61 loss against West Virginia in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT). She scored five points in 23 minutes.
“Words can’t even describe what I was feeling after that game,” Loesing said. “At that point, I knew that was it for me … I took a picture of my jersey after the game, knowing that was going to be it.”
Loesing said she “isn’t going anywhere” and plans to stay on the team and assume a coaching role under Legette-Jack. She is unsure what her exact role will be on the team, but she is expecting to be named a student assistant coach or “helping out with the marketing team.”
Legette-Jack said it was “a privilege and an honor to coach her these past three years.” Loesing was a recruit of former head coach Linda Hill-MacDonald, but played for Legette-Jack in her three-year career. Upon meeting her for the first time, Legette-Jack said Loesing told her she could play every position on the court, including power forward.
Legette-Jack didn’t think she would ever play power forward until a game during her freshman year, which forced her into the position due to injuries.
“She brought confidence. She brought faith. She brought belief in a new coach that joined the program,” Legette-Jack said. “She bought into the system and the system worked.”
Loesing thanked the Buffalo community for its support.
“Thank you for continuously supporting me throughout this whole process,” Loesing said. “I didn’t know I had this fight in me. As much as I played for myself, I played for my teammates, I played for the fans, I played for the community of Buffalo … Hopefully I can still represent those people so I can make them proud.”
This article has been updated to include quotes from Buffalo head coach Felisha Legette-Jack.
Jordan Grossman is the senior sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org